Mumbai News

Mumbai gynaecs grapple with moms-to-be & their worries – Times of India

The last time Juhu resident Riddhi Ravel was pregnant, Zika virus had made the headlines. With all its mosquito-propagated viciousness on unborn babies, it had saddled the first-time mother-to-be with many sleep-sapping nightmares. Now, as she preps to deliver her second child, another virus has hijacked global imagination, taking her back to that discomforting space of four years ago. What buffers Ravel against anxiety are reassurances of her gynaecologist. When she asked him if she should get admitted into a maternity hospital out of fear of contracting Covid-19 in a private hospital, he advised her against it.
Covid-19 has understandably preoccupied the air around occupied wombs. Pregnant women have been frantically dialling their gynacs, seeking affirmations and clarity over unresolved questions in the lead-up to delivery. “Patients are reaching out to me round the clock whether on phone, video calls, FaceTime or Zoom,” said Dr Kiran Coelho, HOD of obstetrics and gynaecology at Lilavati Hospital. She has been advising pregnant women to isolate from family members, including other kids, washing hands five times a day, doing prenatal exercises and keeping surfaces and door handles in the house clean. “For patients who are near term or are high risk, antenatal and routine checks are going on at the hospital,” Coelho said.
Doctors are also advising pregnant women to avoid exposure to places with increased viral loads and this includes unnecessary hospital visits. “When a patient is pregnant, a doctor’s significant focus would be on physical examination which cannot take place on phone. But tele medicine can help reduce unnecessary hospital visits for patients who are pregnant for less than 34 weeks. Their queries more often can be managed through counselling,” said Dr Sangeeta Pikale, consultant at Pikale Hospital. Dr Anita Soni, gynaecologoist at LH Hiranandani Hospital, says she has started accepting patients’ reports over email, which wasn’t the norm in the pre-Covid-19 days.
Many pregnant women are having trouble adjusting to being at home round the clock. Amit Shah, an art of parenting educator who has been conducting his Colaba-based parenting workshops online since the lockdown, suggests doing things that can ease the tension such as learning languages or making toys. Shah recently organised a couples dance session online and punctuated it with instructions to the husbands such as: “Give her a head massage” and “Make her feel like a queen.” In the face of Covid-19, his expectations from these husbands has grown a notch. “I ask them to cook at least once a week without exception,” said Shah.
The new onslaught of household chores has been physically draining for many pregnant women. Which is why south Mumbai-based Divya Naik -an IT firm employee who finds herself stretched thin between work, chores and overthinking about the rate of Covid-19 risk to mothers- counts her cook as a blessing. Every morning as per Naik’s instructions, the cook comes in, showers, changes into a new sari, dons a mask and gets to work. Recently, when a cop stopped the cook on her way to Naik’s apartment, the cook told him that her employer was pregnant. And the cop understood.
Meanwhile, fertility experts are discouraging couples from planning pregnancies. “The first two months are the most vulnerable period in a pregnancy. The full extent to which the virus can have an impact on birth will be apparent only by next year, so we are discouraging couples from planning pregnancies now,” said Dr Partha Roy, who runs a fertility clinic.

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